Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Plunge!!

Plunge: verb
1.     jump or dive quickly and energetically.
2.     Push or thrust quickly.

For the month of August we held separate classes every Monday and Friday evening to learn and dialogue about baptism with the kids. 

The kids at the end of a baptism class

Now, step back a minute. Most of the schools in Haiti operate by squishing a ton of kids into a classroom and having them memorize lessons. This is how “Sunday schools” also operate for teaching kids the bible. I much rather prefer the Socratic method. I want these kids to think for themselves. I want them to know why they believe in something; not just memorize it and put a label on their identity. So we switched up the lessons many months back. The kids and our Haitian pastoral staff have been adjusting nicely to this way of learning.  We read scripture, and ask the kids… “what does this mean to you?” or “what do you think this is saying?”… they are more than happy to participate. We give the kids context, examples and we do little skits.

Left-Right: Rémy-Manager of Christian Studies, Me, Pastor Isaac, 
Fredlyn, Smitty and Linsey

Here comes a great example of God working out the details and me being a brat… 

Our kids are great when we have visitors. GREAT! We get so many compliments on how well behaved they are, even from Haitians. This is true. But what always happens in a family once the visitors leave? The kids act up for the parents!! Right?! So naturally we start these baptism focused classes. The kids are:
Everyone is talking, laughing, being sarcastic, making jokes, throwing things at each other. The new shelter kids are trying to stab each other with shiv's made from sticks... 

Ugh!  During the 3rd class, Pastor Isaac asked one kid his name (Isaac works with the raw street kids and doesn’t know all the program kids by name) to ask him to stop talking and being disrespectful. So, of course little Franky said his name was “Gethro” so Gethro would get in trouble later. Luckily I heard that. 

Multiple times that night I had to ask the kids to be respectful, so did Isaac and Fredlyn. Finally, at the end of class when I am telling the kids that we are about to close in prayer and explaining what we are about to pray for and why… they are laughing and talking… so I lose my patience. Not my finest moment. I raise my voice (loud!) and tell them to be quiet. I tell them I can’t believe how disrespectful they are being and that "I don’t even know who you are right now!". 

Baptism class...taken the night of my self proclaimed "blow up". 

I may or may not have thrown in how Linsey was in the US working 14 hour days to raise school money while they chose to ignore their chores and disrespect every staff and me all day. They act entitled and think they are more important than everyone working to make their lives better.  

42 blank stares… make that 46. Even the staff had drop-jaw. Then naturally leave it to Johnky to pop off with sarcasm and then John Peter to say something obnoxious and blatantly rude. I then said “everyone who is 5 years old, stand up” Judelin, of course, stands up confused. So I proceed to go off on the older boys by congratulating the 5 year old for his exemplary behavior! I said “he’s 5 and he is behaving better than most of you 14-19 year olds., learn some respect from the 5 year old!” Of course Judelin had a huge smile on his little face and got a roaring round of applause… but I was already over it. 

Praying after classes

Pastor Isaac prayed, I told them I love them but I don’t accept this behavior and I left. I left upset with how disrespectful they had been, but more upset with myself and how I handled the situation… I scrutinized everything I said, everything I did. I vacillated all night with frustration with them and then myself and whether I have had any impact at all.

Ok. Moving forward 3 weeks. The classes got better and I went in with more patience and just ignored the bad behavior.  And then…whaaa?! We just baptized 24 kids!!!!! Amaze?! Cynicism and doubt had gotten to me and I hate to admit, I had many moments of:

“What the heck am I doing?!"
"They don’t care!!" 
"We probably won’t even have 2 kids want this" 
"What's the point"

Wedky coming up. This kid has come a LONG way! 

I realize now, all along there were the kids that really wanted to come and learn and listen; these kids behaved. Then there were the “trouble makers”. I was so worried that they were too distracting for the ones “that cared” that I didn’t realize, in their insecurities, the “trouble makers” were there to listen and learn too… they just didn’t think they were good enough for Jesus... so they acted out. 

Of all people to understand that mind set. To have had that same mind set. To have felt that way and to have over come those thoughts. Me. And I missed it...

I finally saw it the day we went to the beach. A handful of the kids were nervous. After a week of serious excitement for baptism… some of the boys changed their minds. They were “too bad for Jesus to forgive them” and they were also “too bad to change and God would eventually get mad and turn His back when they sinned again”… this broke my heart. 

I know that feeling of not being good enough. I know the condemnation of “making the same mistakes”… feeling like I am not and will never “be good enough”. And the feeling of God will hate me if I can't "do better".

Samson was one that "wasn't good enough"... I met him my very 
first trip. He too has come a long way! 

Linsey and I divided and conquered the fear, the legalism and the lies. From these conversations a few more kids ended up praying to accept and follow Jesus, and get baptized. 

I told them the thought "you aren't good enough" is not God and the faint whisper "You are worth it" is God. This may have been one of the most surreal and coolest days of my life.

As for the definition at the beginning…. Haitians don’t mess around. When they tell the kids that for baptism they will "plunge" into the water. They mean it! A few of the little guys scared me… They hit so hard I wasn’t sure they’d make it back up conscience! Ha! 

Selfishly I really wanted to baptize EVERY kid, but I shared and let Isaac, Fredlyn and Smitty do most of them. I stepped in for a few very sentimental baptisms. 

Kenel came to me a few months ago and asked me to pray for him. 
He was cursed by a Boko (Voodoo priest) and would go through long spells 
of not talking and essentially "zombie-ing" out. So much so, he failed this 
past year in school. He wanted to pray to break the curse. After he came 
back up... I reminded him "you are a new creation now, there is no room 
for the curse". He smiled and said he could feel it. 

So surprise… I made baptism certificates for all the kids (and Linsey). They will get a black and white copy to hang in their rooms and the color, original signature certificates will go in the office in their file with their birth certificate. They also each got to pick out a photo of their baptism to remember this truly amazing day.

NOW... notice the difference in our techniques?

 no splash

PLUNGE: huge splash!! haha

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